It used to be that the fashion industry existed in a completely different realm, offering little in terms of solutions to pressing societal issues. But now, thanks to an influx of social- and eco-conscious companies that have baked giving back right into the business model, every dollar you spend goes a little further to combat problems like homelessness, unemployment, and hunger.
Whether you’re in the market for slick sunglasses, new skivvies, or a fresh pair of kicks, these are the brands that are stylish, cool, and charitable, too.
10 of the best companies that give back
Warby Parker spreads the gift of sight all over the globe with their one-for-one program. For every pair of glasses sold, the company give a pair to someone in need through brand partners and nonprofit organizations such as VisionSpring. To date, Warby Parker has distributed over 5 million pairs of glasses, which have helped children see better in school and adults increase their productivity, income, and quality of life. Oh, and did we mention they have an at-home try on program? Lazy online shoppers rejoice.
The aptly named Feed is a lifestyle label that provides food for school children in 63 countries around the world, including the United States. They’ve supplied over 107 million meals and counting thanks to sales of their functional bags, accessories, and home goods imbued with their signature utilitarian vibe. One of the coolest things about shopping their site is that each product page tells you exactly how many school meals your purchase will provide. Treat yourself to a new handbag to contribute to the cause. Or, you can host a Feed Supper of your own with friends and family and request donations for Feeding America.
DIFF Charitable Eyewear
Based in California, DIFF stocks a variety of stylish designer glasses (prescription, sun, and blue light) without the retail markup. The eyewear label has donated over 1 million pairs of reading glasses. They also help provide income for female artisans in Uganda and Honduras who create beautiful sunglass cases through DIFF's Pouch Program. They also give back locally, too, via beach clean ups and by mentoring inner-city kids and donating supplies to them and their families.
The Giving Keys is an inspiring socially responsible brand to shop for a few reasons. The jewelry is made with keys (hence the name) stamped with an empowering word such as "enough," "fearless," "dream," and "inspire." Customers are encouraged to pay it forward and gift the piece of jewelry to someone who needs the message. And every purchase helps create jobs for people transitioning out of homelessness.
Proving that eco-friendly clothes don't have to be boring, tentree sell casual pieces for both men and women made out of sustainable fabrics such as organic cotton, recycled polyester, and hemp. Even the smallest of details, like the coconut shell buttons and cork trim zipper pulls, are made out of natural materials. As the brand’s name suggests, they plant 10 trees for every product purchased. They’re tree count so far is up to 20 million in over 10 countries and they show no signs of slowing down. The company's goal? Plant 1 billion trees by 2030.
Naja Lingerie is all about empowering women with their cute bras and undies that don’t sacrifice luxury (hello, Peruvian cotton). Digital printing technologies allow them to reduce water waste. What makes the brand special though is that they give back to the women that work there. The staff consists of mostly single moms and women who are the primary breadwinners of their homes. Job perks include above average wages, healthcare, and flexibility to help them balance work and mom duties. Plus, Naja also provides their employee’s kids with books, school supplies, uniforms and school meals. The brand’s Underwear for Hope program also creates jobs for women in Columbia.
Thinx disrupted the menstrual hygiene industry with its period-friendly panties, but the brand does a lot more than just help you control your flow. They partnered with nonprofit Period to launch the United for Access campaign that demands students in the U.S. be provided with free period products. They work with schools, after-school programs, and nonprofits to help educate young people about puberty and menstrual hygiene. And, they donate menstrual products to those in need.
Founded by Blake Mycoskie in 2006, Toms was for sure at the forefront of the give back movement in the fashion industry. They’re known for their one-for-one ethos which has provided over 60 million pairs of shoes to children in over 70 countries, but they’re not just about shoes. Their one-for-one program also extends to eyewear helping provide prescription glasses and eye care to people in 13 countries around the world. As if that wasn’t enough, Toms coffee also helps provide clean water in developing countries, and each bag purchase ensures a safe delivery for an expecting mama in need.
If you’re the type of person who loves meaning behind their jewelry and all things woo woo, Satya is definitely one to look into. The brand’s pieces are made with semi-precious stones and infused with sacred symbols—think zodiac sign necklaces and rose quartz malas. A percentage of sales are donated to their own Satya Foundation, which has raised over $1 million for children’s charities including Bent on Learning, a nonprofit organization that teaches yoga to kids in New York City public schools, and Ashram’s for Autism which helps people with autism thrive through mindfulness and yoga practices.
Pura Vida, which translates to "pure life" or "simple life" in Spanish, was founded by two friends after a trip to Costa Rica. Inspired by the county’s laid-back lifestyle, the duo created a brand around the vibrant string bracelets made by local artisans. The company provides full-time jobs to artisans in Costa Rica, El Salvador, India, and other countries. And, through the company's Charity Collection, they’ve donated almost $1.7 million to different charities.
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